Over the past week within our CarterMatt Outlander perspectives article series, we’ve been watching you vote for your favorite season 4 character! What’s so interesting about this season is the abundance of possible candidates all across the board. While there was not necessarily a new addition on par with a Young Ian Murray in terms of importance, there were many key players that were catalysts to the story. Think in terms of Stephen Bonnet, the loathsome villain at the heart of the story, or Lizzie, whose misunderstanding of Brianna’s assaulter set in motion the events through the final third of the season.
Yet, in the end, just one new character emerged at the top of the competition, and it’s one that was probably the most high-profile casting leading up to the start of filming: Maria Doyle Kennedy as Aunt Jocasta. With 40% of the vote, she defeated Bonnet (second with 29%) and John Quincy Myers (third with 12%). Given how morally inept Bonnet is as a character, it’s fair to say that voters were voting here on the basis of impact and performance as opposed to whether or not they were rooting for him.
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What appeals to viewers about Jocasta? Much of it likely starts with the performance of Kennedy herself, a true powerhouse who brings so much passion to every single thing that she does. This is a very different character than we’ve seen from her and she totally transformed and committed to this role. She also understands the complexity of the character. There are elements of her that Claire was right to question (notably, her decision to own slaves and partake in a society that was prevalent within this part of North Carolina), but at the same time she also did take in Brianna, who she had never even met … though she did also try to marry her off. She also has a new-found romance with Murtagh and it is impressive how she battles blindness to still be a formidable person within this world.
Jocasta is complicated, but these sort of characters are one of the many things Outlander does right. They understand that people don’t just exist within one part of a moral pendulum. They are controversial and can do many things you disagree with. What matters within the context of the show is that their decision-making is consistent with who they are. Characters need to have motivations that are clear and one can easily understand. Viewers responded to Maria Doyle Kennedy’s performance, and then they also responded to the large-scale impact that she has on this story and, more than likely, the Murtagh surprise in the family. While it was certainly a major prediction on the internet that Murtagh would effectively take the place of Duncan Innes, a book character not on the show, there was still something interesting in watching much of it play out. (Murtagh and Innes are far from the same people, but there’s at least some overlap here.)
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We have a list of the categories still open below — of course, there are still plenty of other Outlander news stories coming, as well, as we continue to stay afloat through this drawn-out Droughtlander, one that will likely persist through the remainder of this year. (Photo: Starz.)