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Outlander Season 4 was an intense affair that churned through book material at a furious pace, which was necessary unless the show was willing to split Diana Gabaldon's lengthy Drums of Autumn novel up into two seasons. Although the season hit the major beats of the book, some things had to change, and one scene that went very differently on the screen than on the page was Brianna giving birth.
In Drums of Autumn, Bree has both of her parents with her as she gives birth to her son. On the show, however, her parents weren't even in the vicinity, let alone in the room with her. Bree probably could have used the support considering everything she'd gone through in the span of a year, and the change meant the omission of some touching book interactions.
Sophie Skelton, who plays Brianna on Outlander, said this when it was noted to her that some fans were disappointed by the change:
I know. I can completely see why. Obviously from the book, that is a beautiful scene, and I think it would have been a lovely Fraser family moment. But I think, luckily we make up for that when Brianna comes out with Jemmy and she realizes that Roger isn’t with them. They have that lovely little family moment there. Unspoken things are said, especially at the dinner table scene when Bree comes back in. The Frasers are really there to support each other.
On the show, Brianna gave birth to Jemmy at River Run, surrounded by attendants and with Jocasta Cameron happy to provide her with anything she needed. Unfortunately, Jocasta could not provide her with her parents, as Jamie and Claire had not yet returned from their mission to rescue Roger from the Mohawk. They reunited after Jemmy was born and Bree was on her feet again. She rushed out to meet them and was thrilled to see her parents, but quickly devastated to learn that Roger wasn't with them.
In Drums of Autumn, Claire and Jamie were back from their quest to find Roger (and lost Young Ian in the process) before Bree went into labor. Jamie was by her side, distracting her from the pain during the birth, while Claire delivered her grandson. According to Sophie Skelton in her chat with EW, as beautiful as the scene was in the book, it was cut from the show to permit the emotional reunion when Brianna rushes out to discover that Roger was not with Claire and Jamie.
As if Brianna hadn't already had a miserable enough season! She was raped by Stephen Bonnet, left pregnant with a child whose father might have been Bonnet and might have been Roger, learned that her father and cousin had beaten Roger and then handed him over to the Mohawk, and was stuck in a time hundreds of years from her own, being tended to by slaves when she was disgusted by slavery.
Sophie Skelton has a more positive perspective on Bree giving birth without her parents by her side, saying this:
For someone of Bree’s age, I think it shows such strength of her character that she’s sort of surrounded by, not strangers, but people she doesn’t really know. She doesn’t really know Jocasta that well, and Lizzie is relatively new. Phaedra’s new. For Bree to do that alone is, I think, pretty great. It shows how far she’s come from the beginning of the season in terms of growing up, becoming a woman. It also then gives her that moment, just her and Jemmy, when she feels she might not be able to accept him. Then that sort of motherly love comes out of her and she realizes that she can accept this baby no matter who the father is.
Brianna accepted Jemmy without anybody around to talk her into it or persuade her one way or the other. It was a defining moment for Show Bree, even if it differs from the ordeal that Book Bree went through. Fortunately, Roger decided that he would rather stay with Brianna in the 18th century, heartache and all, than return to the 20th century without her.
Will that backfire on him in Season 5? We'll have to wait and see. Book readers have an idea of what's in store for many of the characters in the next season, but Murtagh's survival is a variable that may alter a whole bunch of plots. We can only guess at the details for now, although some interesting info has been released at this point.
Outlander still has a ways to go before the show outpaces the books, if such a thing ever happens. The saga is currently comprised of eight novels, and Outlander is only getting ready to head into Season 5.
Fans probably don't have to worry too much about Starz cancelling Outlander prematurely, and as long as Diana Gabaldon doesn't pull a George R.R. Martin and just stop finishing the books, Outlander the show can keep ahead of Outlander the book saga.
Diana Gabaldon did reveal that the scene from Season 1 of Jamie appearing at Claire's window in the 20th century will be "the last thing in the last book," which at that point was probably Book 10.
Of course, it's been five years since the eighth book was published in 2014, and no release date has been announced for the ninth installment, called Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone. Shall we start placing bets as to whether Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone will be published before The Winds of Winter?
No release date has been announced for Season 5 just yet, but there's no need to worry that Season 5 will be Outlander's last. For now, you can always read the next books in Diana Gabaldon's saga or check out some of summer TV viewing options. The first couple seasons of Outlander are now available streaming without a Starz subscription, if you want to relive all the heart (and heartbreak) of the early days!