This week’s episode of Outlander, “Common Ground,” featured a moment readers of Diana Gabaldon’s Drums of Autumn have been waiting for: Jamie going toe-to-toe with a bear. But the writers of the Starz drama—who like to give fans what they want but not necessarily how they expect it—added their own twist. In the episode, the bear is actually a man who, after being shunned by his Cherokee tribe for sexual assault, assumed the persona (and skin and claws) of a bear to steal food and terrorize Fraser’s Ridge. Jamie drives a stake through the intruder, then lugs the body back to his Cherokee neighbors, who give Jamie the name Bear Killer and introduce Claire to their healer, Adawehi (Dances With Wolves’ Tantoo Cardinal).
How did you find out about the writers’ plan to have the bear be a man, and what was your reaction?
We didn’t really know until we actually first read the script. We were obviously thinking at first, you know, it’s going to be a lot like The Revenant and the DiCaprio [bear] fight. To read it’s actually a man, I think it’s a really nice twist. We have a few of those this season—moments that I think fans of the books are gonna be surprised by—and I think it really adds to it. It’s fun to keep them on the front of their seats. And it’s also the beginning of the sort of understanding and mutual respect that Jamie has with the Native Americans. This moment, really in their eyes certainly, gives them some respect for who he is and vice versa.
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