While we wait for Outlander season 4, which will arrive later this year(#Droughtlander), lets recap all the previous villains we have had. If we look back on the past three season, we have had quite a few nefarious adversaries who challenge our heroes in many different ways. From the tormentor that was Black Jack Randall to the sinister Geillis Duncan.
If we start to deconstruct the Outlander villains, we will see that what makes them fantastic all starts with the motive. In order to have a fantastic and compelling villain, you need to have a character who has a very specific reason for why they do what they do. For Black Jack, it was his pleasure within a military uniform. He did it for the sake of the Crown but also for his personal reasons, such as enjoying being terrible. He took some element of joy from what he did. For Geillis, it was more about power and survival, after all, that she had been through she wanted to make herself virtually untouchable, and she managed to find a way to navigate history in order to do that better.
The strongest adversaries are the ones that you will be able to hone down on their motive, no matter when we are getting them, this season or the next. Beyond that, it helps if there is a certain way in which the villain can affect our main characters. Of course, their actions against Claire and Jamie are horrible, but the whole thing had more of an impact on the viewers as they had a history beforehand. Geillis was someone who tried to delegitimize Claire on some level for choosing to use her “powers” in the way in which she did. Black Jack tried to just break Jamie as a man, whether it be physically, emotionally, or sexually. These are characters that tried to break our leads physiologically with their actions, and any other villain trying to replicate that will have their work cut out for them.
Is Outlander really a comic-book sort of story with cut-and-dry heroes and villains? Not so much. It’s much grayer, with characters that cant be put directly as a villain. Such is Captain Leonard last season, he thought he was doing the right thing, but his actions were going against the actions of Jamie and Claire. Therefore, we don’t think that Outlander is necessarily in the business of creating a villain that will “top” the ones that came beforehand.
Nonetheless, this is a series that has set the bar extremely high. As a non-reader, we cannot really speak to some of the adversaries that are coming, but we do hope that they contain some of the qualities mentioned in this article. (Without a doubt, Black Jack and Geillis also benefited heavily from having Tobias Menzies and Lotte Verbeek in their roles.)