Why One Outlander Star Is Upset About Book Changes After Big Death

outlander season 5 stephen bonnet claire knifepoint starz
(Image credit: Starz)
(Image credit: Starz)

Spoilers ahead for Episode 10 of Outlander Season 5 on Starz.

Outlander hasn't held back from delivering major deaths throughout the fifth season, and now none other than Stephen Bonnet has been killed off. While fans probably aren't mourning Bonnet the way they did for good old Murtagh, actor Ed Speleers has some regrets about how the show has departed from Diana Gabaldon's book saga source material. Speleers has brought Bonnet to life ever since the beginning of Season 4, and became the worst Outlander villain since Black Jack Randall. As book fans know, however, there was more to Bonnet's story that could have been included in the show before Bonnet died.

Speaking with Town & Country, Ed Speleers shared what he would say to somebody upset about the departures from the books:

Well, I'm upset as well. Because I would've liked to have played out more of the things that were in the books. It's brilliant that there is the amount of almost unrivaled passion from the followers of the books, who are now of course followers of the show. They've been supporting this story for nearly 30 years. So I think that's fair enough for them to have some grievances with what may transpire; however, I would caveat that by saying it’s very difficult to keep everything in. These are big books—getting them down into 10, 12 episodes, is quite an ordeal.

Outlander Season 5 is covering the fifth book in Diana Gabaldon's book series, and Stephen Bonnet survives into the sixth book. Of course, the latest episode condensed a lot of his story into an hour of television, so at least Bonnet got a grand (and frightening) sendoff and pretty unforgettable death before Ed Speleers' time as the pirate was finished.

That said, despite admitting to being "upset" at being killed off earlier than expected on Outlander, Ed Speleers complimented the passion of readers and the producers who have to cover very big books into relatively short seasons of TV. While there have arguably been some issues with pacing that might have been fixed by splitting a book into two seasons, Outlander has historically tackled one book per season.

Ed Speleers went on to share how he sees the decision to kill off Stephen Bonnet in Season 5:

I was hurt by the idea of not being able to play the character any more and maybe not seeing how some of the stories happen in the book, but you also can see it for the greater good. And as long as the delivery, and what they do keep is on point—if you're paying respect to the books, and keeping the truth there—then, I think that there has to be a bit of leeway from the people who admire these books and the TV show so much.

All things considered, Ed Speleers was pretty diplomatic in expressing his feelings about the book changes that got Bonnet killed off earlier than expected. Of course, there is always the possibility that he could return to Outlander, even if Brianna went the extra mile to make sure that Bonnet was really dead this time around.

Outlander employs flashbacks all the time, and while I won't wish more lingering trauma on Bree, it would be easy to understand if she has nightmares about him or "sees" him everywhere. Adding kidnapping, assault, and near sex trafficking to the rape makes Bonnet all the more sinister, even in death. If only Bonnet had a 20th century doppelganger who was way nicer and could somehow turn up, a la Frank as Black Jack Randall's descendent!

Find out how Outlander moves on from Stephen Bonnet (and without Ed Speleers) with new episodes of Season 5 airing Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on Starz. For some viewing options now and in the not-too-distant future, be sure to check out our 2020 spring premiere schedule and our 2020 summer premiere guide.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).