Not even the “Outlander” readers expected the Starz TV show to be so deadly on Saturday night. In Season 2, episode 10, Angus was killed. It’s not surprising that the time travel drama would start killing off major characters when a war is happening, but the show typically follows the books. In Diana Gabaldon’s “Dragonfly in Amber,” it’s not Angus who bites the dust, but the producers made a different choice on the TV show.
Readers know that it was Willie (Finn Den Hertog) who was supposed to die in Season 2. However, it seems scheduling issues prevented the show from sticking to the source material, so Angus (Stephen Walters) had to take his place. He died in Claire’s (Caitriona Balfe) field hospital from internal bleeding that went undiagnosed.
“It was explained to me, the backstory, about how the character of Willie, they were intending to kill that character, but then the actor who played him was contracted so he had to bail out on a second season and I guess I took the bullet,” Walters told TVLine. “But these things happen, and I’ve said before, I take a great positive from it; it’s a brilliant show. We were all gonna die at some point and in a way Angus gets his own dead as opposed to maybe, I don’t know what they were thinking, dying generically in battle.”
It didn’t entirely shock the actor, though. While the show sticks to Diana Gabaldon’s novels generally, smaller details have been known to change. “To be honest with you, because they’ve taken such a divergence in the first place from the actual character in the book anyway, it didn’t surprise me,” Walters admitted.
Showrunner Ronald D. Moore said the decision to kill Angus was to make the story feel realistic. “Even that particular battle at Prestonpans, the highlanders lost very few men and the British had most of the casualties, but it felt wrong to do a war story and not have our side lose somebody, and not just somebody that steps into the show for an episode and dies, but somebody that actually means something to the audience,” Moore explained to E! Online.
Angus’ departure wasn’t taken lightly, though. Executive producer Maril Davis noted that it was hard for the cast and crew to lose an actor who had been with the show since it started. “It’s a tragic loss but I think we felt it more in production because Stephen Walters who plays Angus is such an amazing actor and we love that character,” Davis told the Hollywood Reporter. “He's been such a big part of our family and we are such a tight knit family.”
Davis added that Angus’ death will affect his friends onscreen as well. “I think for the characters going forward, it’s just the realization that you can't be on this road to war and take up this cause without suffering some losses,” she said.
It’s not just the characters who understand that more death is coming. Now that it’s clear anyone can die, even if they didn’t in the books, fans might be worried. After all, the Battle of Culloden is coming soon, and that’s sure to leave some heartbreaking casualties on the battlefield.
“Outlander” Season 2 airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. EDT on Starz.