If you've read our "Outlander Warning," or if you've read the books, you already have a hint of what you fans are in for in the next couple weeks, as the Starz series sets out to do something no TV show has done before.
It is horrific and shocking. But ultimately, so beautiful you will weep.
Once again, we aren't going to spoil anything. But suffice to say, the final two episodes are something many people will be talking about, whether they have seen the show or not, because what happens is...BOLD. For any TV show. On any network. In fact, one could certainly argue it's the biggest TV risk of the past decade or more.
It is also highly controversial.
For Outlander's executive producer Ron Moore, these final episodes have been a very long time in the making, and under meticulous consideration from his first day on the job. I chatted with him about how he and his writing team approached the seemingly insurmountable challenge of bringing this disturbing book material (from the Diana Gabaldon book series) to TV, in a way that both served the story, and actually worked for the small screen. (More from Ron later after you see the episodes. For now...no spoilers.)
"Right from the beginning," Moore explains to me, "we all knew this was the end of the book, so there was going to be some pretty dark stuff out there waiting at the end. So when we were doing the initial breakdown of the 16 episodes, we started looking for opportunities to set that up. The writers, we talked early about laying track to get us to the end of the show...and all the way through the season, we were sort of always aware of where we were going, laying things along the route to sort of give you fair warning and also correctly build the arc so it paid off in the right way."
Fair warning. That's what Moore and his team of writers sought out to do, and yet some viewers, particularly those who did not read the books, clearly have no idea what to expect. And Moore admits, he has no idea what to expect as far as the audience's reaction.
"We were sort of aware, all along, in a larger sense, that there would be repercussions on the episode," he admits. "That you know, people were going to see it, and it was volatile material, and it was going to be certainly controversial. Some people would hate it, some people would love it. It would have various sociopolitical connotations to it for a variety of reasons, but we always kind of tried to shove that aside and not think about it and talk about it, because that wasn't our job. Our job was to do this drama and translate this story and to do it as best we can."
When asked if he's concerned that some viewers might turn off Outlander for good, Moore is thoughtful. "I'm sure there will be a few people like that, and I think it's unfortunate, but you can't argue with the audience. Their reaction is whatever their reaction is, so if you've watched this whole story and you get all the way to these two [episodes], and that's it, you can't watch the show again, you know, I'm sad for that, I'm disappointed, but OK. I don't expect that to be everybody's reaction, or even the majority's reaction. I don't know, you know? I'm curious. I'm certainly curious to see how it's received. I know there will be a chunk of fans that are disappointed that there are elements from the book that were changed out of necessity, and you know, OK, that's a different reaction. And then there's going to be a big chunk of the audience that has no idea where this story is going and watches it cold, and I'm very curious about that reaction. Like what are they going to say? Did they have any clue? Is it shocking? Is it challenging? It's a big question right now."
Viewers can start to answer that question for themselves when the first of Outlander's final two episodes airs this Saturday on Starz. Expect a tidal wave of emotion, particularly as you round into the end of the season finale. (According to sources, one can't even write about the finale's final scenes without tearing up. And by sources, I do mean me.)
And then when the season is over, those of you who agree that Outlander deserves award recognition for not only a stellar first season, but for tackling what is perhaps the greatest acting and writing challenge anyone could be tasked with in these final episodes, can join me on Twitter (@kristindsantos) for our #EmmysForOutlander battle cry.
And a good cry. A good, really ugly, ugly cry.