Welcome back! First things first: a HUGE congratulations to Terry Dresbach, Anna Lau, and Nadine Powell for their Emmy nomination for costume design! It is so well-deserved and if you listen to the podcasts you really get a sense of how much thought, blood, sweat, and tears goes into this show’s costuming process.
I know we all would have liked more nominations and recognition for the show’s other cast and crew members, but it’s just more motivation for us fans to promote Outlander, ensure it is introduced to a broader audience, and do all we can to improve ratings. Challenge accepted!
Want something that will cheer us up? Then let’s talk about Roger and Brianna, because I am about to explain to you why they will be the sweetest thing to hit North Carolina since Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.
So, without further ado, here are the top reasons why we are all about to fall in love with this couple:
Warning: this article contains plot spoilers from Drums of Autumn, the later novels, and possibly Season 4. I promise not to give too much away, but at your own risk!
1. Their lives are familiar
Born in 1941 and 1948, respectively, Roger and Brianna would likely still be alive today; Brianna would be one of the first Baby Boomers. And although the technologies have advanced through the decades, Roger and Brianna’s lives and world are familiar to most of us. They grew up with modern transportation, mass communication, space travel, and computers. They live in modern cities, listen to the Beatles, drive cool cars, and wear recognizable fashions. (Yes, including Roger’s black turtleneck. That one’s for you, Team Biscuit).
Like most of us is born in the twentieth century, Roger and Brianna are eyewitnesses to the Cold War and the fight for civil rights and gender equality. And they will bring all of that- all of their twentieth century history, personalities, and knowledge- to the eighteenth century. That’s going to be a lot of fun, mostly because we can project ourselves and our imaginations onto this couple. That is, Brianna and Roger will be the fish out of water that most of us would be if we managed to time travel.
And this makes them a bit different from Claire. Although Claire experienced a definite adjustment period after going through the stones, I would argue it was less of a culture shock than one might originally suspect. In many regards life in 1918, the year Claire was born, was not all that different from life in the eighteenth century. When Claire was a child, many areas of the United Kingdom and United States were still transitioning from horses to automobiles. Women could not vote in the United States and had just earned suffrage in the United Kingdom. Large sections of rural America had no indoor plumbing (and wouldn’t for some time), infectious diseases wreaked destruction, and the infant mortality rate was close to a whopping ten percent. Considering Claire also lived off the grid for most of her childhood (raised on archeological digs), living in eighteenth century Scotland probably wasn’t all that unfamiliar.
It will be a different adventure for Roger and Brianna, and it’s going to be (mostly) fun to watch. Both of them will have their share of challenges in Season 4, but the audience will undoubtably relate to this couple and their (literal and metaphorical) leaps of faith.
2. They are endearingly human
A bit of confession time before we go further: I did not care for adult Brianna upon my first reading of Drums of Autumn. Like, NOT AT ALL. I found her self-absorbed and brash and prone to complaint. Well, I am here to whistle a different tune— I actually really love her character now. That’s due in large part to Sophie Skelton’s performance…and also because of some self-reflection.
Often when our initial reaction is one of negativity, it’s more of a reflection of what we don’t care for in ourselves. We are all, to a certain extent, self-absorbed and immature; realizing I was reacting to my own short-comings made me view Brianna in a more human and favorable light.
The fact is, she is quite young and fairly naive in the ways of the world…especially the eighteenth century world. And, yes, she’s not that much younger than Claire was when she time traveled the first time, but Claire had already experienced the trauma of war and was perhaps better emotionally equipped (read: mature) for her new life. Brianna’s actions in Drums of Autumn are entirely believable for her character and her history.
And this makes her a pretty great match for Roger. He, too, is prone to human faults. He often does the wrong thing for the right reason. His (sometimes misguided) need to protect Brianna lands them both in hot water more than once. He often lets romance cloud his judgement. In short, he’s very much like how you would expect a man, musician, and historian from the twentieth century to be: impulsive, protective, passionate, and caring.
Again, because these two characters are so endearingly human, it will be easy for us viewers to imagine ourselves in their adventures. Would I have naively followed a pirate into his private cabin in his own ship? Truth is, when I was twenty, I probably would have. It’s not all that much different from following a group of questionable guys upstairs at a college party. Would I have stormed off on my own after a fight (as Roger does with Brianna)? Definitely. When you’re in your twenties the inclination to run away and make pointedly dramatic exits is pretty strong.
But the growth of these two characters is also very relatable. By the end of Drums of Autumn, Roger and Brianna are more forgiving and their perceptions have broadened. They have matured, and our understanding of these characters has matured as well; Roger and Brianna have earn the gravitas their characters possess in later novels. Their development makes them convincingly realistic characters capable of growth.
3. They are unapologetically nerdy
Bad decisions in the eighteenth century aside, Roger and Brianna are very smart. She goes to Harvard (really, Radcliffe in 1968, but we’ll let that one slide), he teaches at Oxford. They both love a good research deep dive. They play rollicking games of The Minister’s Cat. Brianna reads Dickens, studies engineering, and attempts to reinvent twentieth century technologies. Roger plays multiple instruments, knows his way around National Archive collections, and is an avid theologian. These are some smart cookies. (Smart biscuits? Again, Rankin fans, that one’s for you)
And their intelligence is so refreshing in a world of entertainment that tends to paint brainpower as a fault or reason for slapstick (think Urkel from Family Matters, Ross from Friends, or the characters of Big Bang Theory). Instead of being the punchline, Roger and Brianna are the heroes.
Not only that, but they enjoy each other’s intellect. When Roger misquotes Nathan Hale in Episode 213, Brianna isn’t afraid to correct him and he isn’t angry when she does so. Instead, it’s funny for both of them. They like to teach each other big words (coccygodynia, camstairy), Roger helps Brianna with her inventions, and Brianna is encouraging of Roger’s choice in ministry. They are constantly pushing the other to be smarter and better; being in the company of these two characters is like being at a very enjoyable dinner party with your most intelligent friends. And, as such things typically go, they make feel just a little bit smarter, too.
4. Their love is believable
We all love Jamie and Claire. We love Fergus and Marsali. But there’s something about Brianna and Roger that just feels so real, honest, and relatable. I’m fairly certain that my husband won’t be rescuing me from a fort full of soldiers with us escaping into the open sea and then galloping through the Scottish wilderness on horseback. We will, however, play word games like The Minister’s Cat on our way to the County Fair (that’s actually what we will be doing today). While Jamie and Claire’s relationship is tinged with just a bit of fantasy, Roger and Brianna’s is perhaps more tangible. They fight, they forgive, and they grow like most modern couples I know.
Every couple has its own niche in the Outlander universe, and Brianna and Roger’s relationship feels like my favorite pair of shoes- cute, comfy, and timeless.
I predict Season 4 of Outlander will be an interesting paradox of a new adventure that feels refreshingly familiar. And this minister’s cat is an anticipatory cat.