Monthly Archives: May 2018

Murtagh Fitzgibbons-Fraser: Why We Have The Man’s Back


Duncan Lacroix as Murtagh FitzGibbons Fraser in Season 3 Outlander

(Obligatory Spoilers Alert. Read at your own risk.)

by J. Canning

So, during Droughtlander 4, you are standing there, with your dirk shielding Murtagh’s back. Imagining what must happen for your favorite supporting character to survive another season……

I have a confession. I really love this series, and follow the stories of the two main characters Jamie and Claire Fraser with passion as with most fans. However, I feel more passion about some of the supporting characters and actors. I fangirl on the supporting cast. Why? The support characters need love, too. They are also more tangible for many series fans. I have always found it strange that some people become so very obsessed about the lead romantic characters and ignore some really fine acting going on in the background and side stories with support characters. These characters make the story rich and varied. I am not alone, there are many of you out there that have grown to love great supporting characters. We really like being along for the ride with some of the other characters created by the writers. We can’t get enough of them.

Series and film writers may initially create the characters, but the actors absolutely bring them to life. My favorite character is Murtagh Fitzgibbons-Fraser, Jamie’s Godfather. In the books Outlander and Dragonfly in Amber this character is not very detailed, book Murtagh is mostly in the background. I always thought he could have had more to say and do, being so important to Jamie Fraser. I, and an army of supporters, are so glad the writers and producers of the television series believed in him too, a character that needed to be really expanded upon, woken up if you will. The amazing casting of a daring actor, Duncan Lacroix, took on that very challenge, and Murtagh has not been allowed to sleep.

We are shown that Murtagh can be deep, and Lacroix slowly builds this feeling over several episodes, coming up from a bubbling bern. We first see him as a member of Dougal MacKenzie’s band of cattle raiders, seemingly just along for the ride. But his true purpose is to keep his Godson alive. While the writers and producers took a great gamble in fleshing out the mostly background character of Murtagh FitzGibbons-Fraser, they struck a fantastic goldmine in casting the very talented Duncan Lacroix, an English stage and screen actor little heard of this side of the Atlantic, but known on the stages of Ireland and in the UK. Due to his superb skills, Duncan Lacroix took a hold of the character and made him the most believable and loyal curmudgeon you could ever encounter. He created a Murtagh that the fans just couldn’t live without. He is afterall Jamie’s Godfather, but really a father, friend, guardian, confidant, touchstone, and loyal companion to the end.

Out of Scotland

The role of Murtagh changed drastically with season 2, when Jamie, Claire and Murtagh enter the spiky toothed mouth of a very dangerous Parisian crocodile, and the gently smiling jaws of  Court of King Louis. While Murtagh was a fish out of Scotland for the most part, his role became that of Jamie and Claire’s conscience, a reminder of reality, with a thump on the heid. This is much needed, as Jamie and Claire lie, cheat, and steal their way through Paris in Series 2, subsequently putting their lives and the life of their unborn child at risk. Murtagh demands to be told what is really going on, what is this they are really trying to do with the secrets and lies, and why?  When the man is finally told the truth, that Claire is a time traveller, and knows the fate of the Highlands, he eventually accepts it and supports Jamie’s belief in her. We see a side of Murtagh who is a deep thinker, and expertly played by Lacroix with furrowed brows and a punch, that shows the character’s frustration and sympathies with a complex concept seemingly impossible in their time. The man is willing to believe in the pair and their young fostered son, Fergus. Whether it’s pistols, swords, dirk, or ax, Murtagh will find a way to fight out of any situation. At mid season when Claire and Jamie finally leave Paris, fans were on the edge of their seat, let Murtagh get back to Scotland and to Lallybroch. You cannot leave him behind.

He Really is Deep

No greater scene of pathos is rendered by Duncan Lacroix when we have the aftermath of the scene of Mary Hawkins rape and how it changes the lives of all involved in La Dame Blanche. The anguish felt by Murtagh, when he blames himself for not protecting Mary and Claire from their assailants and of what could have happened to the unborn bairn, will just melt you. We see a great moment of deep trouble for the otherwise indefatigable Murtagh. The man beats himself up, and with Jamie rallying behind him, vows to seek vengeance. When the man says he will do something, he will. Lacroix plays the man with such an elastic range that you have to know the part was written for him and inspired by his abilities, including the swinging of an ax with such an expression of satisfaction at a job finally well done.

With all the subsequent Murtagh insights that finished out in season two, the offering of marriage to Mary Hawkins when she is to be left destitute by the death of Alexander Randall, to the fighting leading up to the ill fated Battle of Culloden, that a great and troubled soul will stand behind the Frasers.  We are left with a character we know from reading the books, doesn’t live past the battle. Fans of the books and series together took to social media and bombarded the shows producers that Murtagh must live. #SaveMurtagh was one of the longest running tags on Twitter.


As many fans of the Outlander television series agree, when you have such an amazing gift as a character that was lost in the original Outlander Book series at a pivotal moment in Dragonfly in Amber, given another chance in the series to live, you can get on the cheer squad. It was hard for the writers to keep the secret and they were up against some formidable fans. That pain and suffering of a favorite character’s loss, then when rescued becomes the breath you need to believe in series miracles. Well, after many years of Game of Thrones deaths, it’s nice to feel like you can breathe a bit with this series. In Season 3, The Battle Joined, where Murtagh turns up fighting with Jamie, even if it was a brief moment, the tears were flowing and boxes of tissues torn through. Twitter had a torrent of love.

After two seasons of the fight to stop the ill fated battle, and the insurmountable task of changing history, Jamie and the Highlanders find themselves outnumbered and on the moors. Through a subsequent flashback, in flies the frenzied remnant of the Viking heritage of the Scots, otherwise known as Murtagh the Berserker FitzGibbons-Fraser, with a grin that none other than Lacroix can deliver. The man is slaying Government officers right and left, the whole while book readers are cringing thinking, is this the moment? We lose sight of him again. It is not until the episode of All Debts Paid that we see what happened to Murtagh. We find him alive, barely, with Jamie years later in Ardsmuir Prison. And true to Outlander writing, they are subsequently parted again as Murtagh is lead off with other indentured prisoners to serve out a 14 year sentence in the American Colonies. If you pick up the Outlander Season 3 Collectors edition, you will find a treat in the outtakes. Watch the Murtagh, Jamie and Lord John Grey scene that was cut. Not a word from Lacroix, just pure look and feel in this one.

Where Will Murtagh Go From Here?

Speculation. We all love to do it in our favorite series. Anticipation drives us wild, and our fourth season of Droughtlander is killing us with the wait. I know I have a few ideas on how the path of Murtagh could go from here. I try to be pragmatic and look at the evidence of the soul of Murtagh we have so far. It may not be romantic, not in the sense that we attribute to the romantic pairings of Claire and Jamie, Bree and Roger, or Marsalie and Fergus. These are classic romances. Murtagh is not classic, he is a creature unto himself. His romance is of the soul that Duncan Lacroix has put into him. One with great soul that can be very deep, for the right people he wants to love and protect.

So, what about season 4? Indenturement in the colonies is 14 years time. Given that Murtagh was about 20 when he became Jamie’s Godfather, and in his 40s around the time he met Claire, this will put Murtagh well into his 60s. Did he survive his servitude? Many are speculating that he take another character’s place from the books. Pictures have leaked out on Twitter from filming around January. What do I think? I always thought if he had survived the boat trip, I wouldn’t put it past him to be snagged by pirates. But I could see him as a Mountain Man in the backcountry of South Carolina. Pelt hunting and Davy Crockett aside, it is what would be natural to him. The man lived off the land in the Highlands, so it makes sense to me he would end his days doing this, and hopefully fighting at Jamie’s side in the upcoming battle for independence of the American Colonies. I think Murtagh a tough enough character to be fighting into his eighties. Oh yeah, in the books there was this guy that had a very “interesting” operation performed by Claire, that’s one scene I could see Lacroix pulling off like no other could. I really shouldn’t say that. We will find out in November 2018.

So, I salute you who support minor characters. Raise a glass with you. We are fans of the underdog, the character that helps enrich a story to make you feel like you are along for the ride. We love having an alternative viewpoint, a conscious for the main character or characters that stops them from doing something really morally bad, or just plain makes them think. Then there are the rescue scenes and the great Murtagh sarcasm that echos in our heads. Maybe that character, like Murtagh, takes on the bad decisions, the risks to keep the main characters alive, sacrifices him or herself to give some reality to the viewer. We got this in the resurrection of Murtagh FitzGibbons-Fraser and owe Duncan Lacroix a debt of gratitude for fleshing out this fate making curmudgeon. We salute you, sir, and wait for your next performance.

You can next see Duncan Lacroix in The Outlaw King with fellow Outlander Alumni Stephen Cree on Netflix this November, and in the upcoming dark comedy Western, The Sisters Brothers@SistersBrosFilm.


Colin McFarlane, How Far Will This Ulysses Travel?


To fans of the book series, Ulysses is a pivotal supporting character that is being watched with great expectations and enthusiasm from fans. Actor Colin McFarlane, whose credits include Commuter, with Liam Neeson, and Torchwood, has been hit with the frantic welcome wall of Outlander book and series fans on Twitter since his casting announcement and filming for season 4 began. He has leapt to the challenge and has been reading the books and Tweeting about how excited he is to be part of the Outlander family.

Colin will see his new character in three books, Drums of Autumn, Fiery Cross, and Breath of Snow and Ashes. Ulysses is the servant/slave of Jocasta Cameron, Jamie Fraser’s aunt, sister to Collum and Dougal MacKenzie, and runs River Run with Jocasta.

Colin has been enthusiastically getting into the history of Scotland for the show, as he was Tweeting with fans about Culloden. All of the new cast members coming on board this season 4 will be heading deep into Scottish history and even more so into American Colonial history.

Agency: Emptage Hallett

Outlander Effect on Travel: Caution on Film Locals

skye3Last travel season I hit up tours in Scotland and traveled the Bonnie Prince Charlie trail as much as I humanly could on a three week trip. Let’s face it, as filming continues on the fourth season of Outlander, the hit book and television series from Diana Gabaldon’s famous book series, there are many film locations across Scotland, Prague, and South Africa. Enthusiastic fans of both the books and the television series have traveled in epic numbers to reach Scotland, Prague in the Czech Republic, and may be doing so in South Africa. So, what does huge traffic and a huge amount of filming locations to track down mean for travelers, and the environment they trample on? It means Scotland needs to figure out how it will continue to handle the increased human traffic in its borders. Each historic site has seen large increases over the last three years due to the popularity of the series and films.

2018 Updated Filming Locations Map

Outlander Filming Locations and Travel Table

When people travel, they have certain expectations of where they are going. We want accessibility and that the location looks like it does in brochures and travel books. It will never look quite like it did in the film, series, or travel book you bought. When filming takes place, areas are blocked off, and dressed for scenes. It can also be exhilarating and frustrating to fans who traveled to hunt down their favorite series, to get a glimpse of behind the scenes or be close to a star, but escorted off the property. Film crews are trying to work and bring you your favorite show. The instant gratification of selfies and pictures while filming have made some fans go to extremes to get pictures. Everyone becomes a Paparazzi. Producers and studios want to keep the element of surprise for the audience, keep that storytelling secret for the reveal. This can lead to some conflicts. Hopefully as a traveller, you can help promote responsible observance and help keep the area picked up.

To add to it, the popularity of film and TV series like Outlander have lead to fans picnicking and causing erosion at historic sites such as Culloden Moor. At the Fraser stone alone, damage has been done due to trampling and it will now have to go through restoration of the surrounding soil to restore the erosion caused by multitudes of fans coupled with extreme weather. Let us not forget, this site has historic mass graves. Those that have fallen are due respect. Leaving tokens causes more work for the grounds staff.

Embrace Balance
When you are a guest in another country, or any historic site, you should always think about leaving it the way it was when you found it. As a society, we like to collect and grab things for remembrance. People also bring in things as tribute, and the curators then have to dispose of hundreds of items. Just think about how you might feel if something was defaced or trampled on and you could not enjoy it when you arrived.

Clan Fraser grave at Culloden damaged amid ‘Outlander effect’

NTS Applies to Extend Culloden Centre Hours

You should always check with a historic site if something is going on that day, or at the very least check out the local papers. Most historic sites have a web page with current conditions and closures listed. However, these may not get updated frequently. Face it, Scotland is now an ever increasing hotspot for film and television. There are websites for local papers and they love to cover filming and will tell you if filming is in the city, such as Glasgow, and what streets are blocked off. Also, go in mind that no matter how much perfect vacation planning you do, something is going to be blocked or not working at one of the places you really wanted to see. Adapt.

Channel 4 Bid for Glasgow

Budget and Transport
How can you get to cram in as many sites for filming a series as possible in a two week span and not blow what little budget you have? Could you do less damage and annoyance to the environment or any landowners if you took buses or bikes to a local site, and not hired a car? Face it, Outlander is an example of massive amounts of filming locations, spread all over Scotland, and some of them only accessible by car. Or are they? On my trips I was only able to make it to a fraction of the sites I could hunt down. I made it to several S1 and S2 sites, and then continued on the Bonnie Prince Charlie. How can you cram it all in? Some Outlander and Game of Throne tours will get you to many of the locations, but are expensive tours and booked very solid, months in advance. Make a list of the sites and find out how to get there on your own.

Roaming Rights in Scotland
Scotland has roaming rights. What that means in a nutshell, is that the public has the right to go to public historic sites without access being denied. Unless a historic site has hired itself out to be filmed in and is shut to the public. There are many historically significant buildings and sites that are on private land, or you may have to cross private land to get to it. Enter these at your own risk, property that has agriculture going on, many of these are adjacent to working farms. Private residences are not right to roam, even though a deer path may go through it. If filming is going on, and you are blocked, or you want to see the filming and think you can get around another way, watch it. Guards are posted and can make you leave.

Too Many Filming Locations
The best way to get to most of the filming locations is by car and hiking in. Problem is rental cars in the UK and Ireland are very cost prohibitive unless you are traveling with a group. Group tours can be expensive as well. Many of these sites are not happy with the excessive car parking, people damage, and noise occurring. So, is it possible to see these filming sites via train, bus and walking a bit? Yes and no.

On my last two trips, I divided up what I could according to the larger cities I visited, Glasgow and Edinburgh. I went two summers and still came back and had only seen a fraction of what there is being filmed in. To get in more sites and manage the traveling better, I started compiling a locations and places table in a Google Doc, with public transit accessible sites. I will be making this accessible to you, my fellow traveler. It’s a work in progress, so if you have had some good or bad experiences with public transit and Outlander sites, send me a line so I can add your info to the table.

It is possible to see many of these sites, if you plan around the larger cities and take trips in sections. Hiring a specialized tour will help, but you can get to many of these sites with planning and not be on a tour timetable.

Outlander Filming Locations

Outlander Travel Itinerary

Bonnie Prince Charlie Trail

Season Five Revealed for Outlander

Outlander Effect on Blocking Development at Culloden Site


Outlander in The News Round Up This Week

Outlander has had some great announcements this week. We are on for seasons 5 and 6. Starz announces via Twitter that two more seasons are ordered. Some stars were so happy, apparently they had a weep. It was good to see a picture of our missing man in action Duncan Lacroix visiting here with Stephen Walters. Looks like these two have been getting some much needed sun in the UK. Pssst: We know he’s also happy about Rick and Morty getting renewed, Duncan’s one of their biggest fans.

Duncan and Stephan

So, what can we expect in the two new seasons? The seasons should encompass the books by Dianna Gabaldon, The Fiery Cross and a Breath of Snow and Ashes. These books will start heading the series into the American Revolution. There has been talk of some of the books being adapted and that book purists may be disappointed in more alterations in the plots and storylines of the books. For the rest of us who are more receptive to creative process and supporting the writers and producers of the series, and some fine acting, we are well pleased to see our favorite series continue on, give fantastic insight into storytelling, promote travel and film for Scotland and just make us happy.

In The News


Outlander Series Headed for Seasons 4, 5, and 6


Claire Fraser and Rollo 2018 Starz Entertainment LLC

It’s the news many fans have been waiting for. Will there be a season 5 and 6 of the phenomenal series? Show Runner Ron Moore dropped hints at a recent show panel in Los Angeles that the show is going into production for season 5 even though Starz has not formally announced picking up the season. Many fans of the series have been speculating about everything from Jocasta Campbell’s marrying Murtagh Fitzgibbon’s Fraser to the replacing of book characters by other popular characters or created new character rolls from book characters. We saw this in season 1 with the alteration and welcomed creation of a much deeper characters in both Murtagh Fitzgibbons Fraser, Jamie’s Godfather, and Angus Mohr, who in the books was a giant of a man who was Colum MacKenzies’ bodyguard, became a much bigger and beloved character in the series superbly played by Stephan Walters.

Season 5 is rumored to be taking a possible diversion from following the books closely, with possibilities of splitting books, or taking a different direction altogether. It appears the writer’s room wants more freedom to grow the series in an organic way and keep as many elements as they can from the original books. This will of course

Series 5 In The Offing? Ron. D. Moore Drops Hints

Considering the popularity of the series, and the property that keeps expanding for Sony Pictures, it would make sense that the cable giant would pick up and keep producing the series. As of this writing, there has been no official announcement for season 5. However, given the great lengths with production for the 13 part series seasons running at about 10 to 11 months, Ron D. Moore and crew have to start making production and design decisions prior to the current season 4 filming ending in the next few months.

Update: It’s Official. There is a Season 5 and 6 approved and planned as of May 9, 2018.