The first half of Outlander season 7 is over. While fans wait for the back half to arrive, we have questions about the midseason finale, “Turning Points,” wherein Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) has his finger smashed up at the second Battle of Saratoga.
If you haven’t read Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books, it might surprise you to learn that things go down a little differently on the page. In the books, Jamie has to have the finger amputated. But on the show, his medic wife Claire manages to save it.
Why the change? My guess is that the show didn’t want to have a hero who is that badly mangled; after all, a bit part of the reason audiences tune in to watch Outlander is to look Sam Heughan, and giving him a physical handicap might pull them out of that fantasy. As producer Matthew B. Roberts shared on The Official Outlander Podcast, keeping audiences immersed is a big part of his mission statement.
Why did Outlander change the books and let Jamie keep his finger?
It sounds like the writing team never seriously entertained the possibility of Jamie losing his finger, but it want to include his injury. “We knew we were going to have some issues with the hand,” Roberts said. “The wound in the book is very severe, we knew we didn’t have enough runway to provide the time for the perfect healing We had to jump time in the episode, so that was always a concern.”
We had a lot of meetings about the hand, what it was going to look like initially and going forward the healing process, the scars and everything.
Roberts knows that there will be fans of Galbaldon’s books who know when they change things, but he’s aiming to keep as many people immersed in the story as possible, which sometimes means that changes must be made. “We have a rule in the room, which is, ‘Don’t break the dream’ and the dream is when you start the episode and you get to the end hopefully there’s no breaks in the dream or you’re like, ‘Hold on, what’s going on?’”
This philosophy allows for minor onscreen inaccuracies as long as the emotional flow isn’t interrupted while people are watching. For instance, a love scene between Roger and Brianna is set to the Phil Collins song “In the Air Tonight.” The love scene takes place in 1980. “In the Air Tonight” didn’t come out until 1981. But as long as that mistake meets “refrigerator logic,” meaning you don’t think about it until after the episode is over, it’s fine:
Maybe when they [viewers] were getting a snack after the show… they were like hey, wait a minute. I remember Phil Collins and remember that song, I don’t remember it being out that soon.
We don’t know exactly when Outlander will be back for the second half of season 7, but it’ll be sometime in 2024.