'Outlander's Richard Rankin on Roger's Turning Point & His Journey Back to Brianna

Jessica Napoli
Q&A Starz

[Warning: The below contains spoilers for Season 4, Episode 12 of Outlander, "Providence."]

Roger's journey this season on Outlander is hard to shake off, says actor Richard Rankin, especially because of all the abuse he's suffered at the hands of the Mohawk and Jamie (Sam Heughan).

"Yeah, I take the character with me everywhere I go. I have to because we're not finished with him yet," he tells TV Insider of Sunday's episode, "Providence." This week is a spotlight for Rankin, who carries many of the scenes and dialogue.

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"This episode was a more complex look into his character," he explains.

The time-traveling historian is battered and trying to survive at the Mohawk's camp, Shadow Lake, in New York. While acting as their prisoner, he meets another white man, Father Alexandre, a missionary who came to spread God's word but fell out of the Mohawk's graces after refusing to baptize the baby he had with a Native woman.

The Father must perform the sacrament or face death and he chooses death because he broke his vow to God. The decision completely bewilders Roger, who is struggling internally with his own feelings of right vs. wrong, love, and honor.

Check out the interview below:

We meet a very different Roger in this episode. He’s hardened… is he turning his back on love?

Richard Rankin: No, I don't think so. It's the opposite. That whole speech he gives to the father, he's going through a little journey of self discovery, He's seeing all these things for the first time and he's recounting everything he's done that's led him up to this point and how it could have been different. In terms of his choices, especially about Brianna (Sophie Skelton), they could have been different.

But at the end of the day, his choices have and always will be for love because of how deeply he feels for Brianna. He's giving the Father this talk about how he's going to be selfish and start looking out for number one... but I think what he's doing is an act of self-preservation. The irony is that, after this massive speech — which was beautifully written — he escapes and then completely contradicts everything he's just said to the Father. He runs back.

Brianna and Roger

Were you surprised when you read the script and Roger turns around?

No, I don't think there's an ounce of selfishness in Roger. I think it's completely indicative of the character to run back. I didn't even have to read that part to know he would run back. There's quite a heroic, compassionate part of Roger. He's always going to try and help and do something about a situation. I think the first glimpse of that part of him you see on the Gloriana when he steps in and helps the mother and baby. He has a strong moral compass that just grows and grows throughout the season.

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The real number will actually surprise you.

Do you think his connection to religion is restored?

I don't think he's necessarily questioning religion at this point. I think what he's saying to the Father is 'don't be stupid.' The Mohawk don't know anything about the Father's religion [Christianity] so just say a few Latin words and pretend it's a baptism to save yourself and your baby and then you can be with your love. The Father is very resolute and Roger is truly perplexed by the fact that he won't do it.

Do you think Roger will ever recover mentally?

Not entirely. Roger's never going to be that historian that we knew of. That guy is long gone. There's definitely going to be a hangover of what happened for a long time, if not forever. I think that's fascinating as an actor to play. He's a deeper, more complex character which is more interesting for the fans to watch.

Do you think he still wants to be with Brianna deep down?

I don't think he knows. Everyone wants love to prevail but what they've both been through has its affect. He's tainted and questioning if he's supposed to be with her. He believes that Jamie beat him because he left Brianna. That's the only logical conclusion he can come to because Roger doesn't know she was assaulted. It's seems a bit extreme but that's the only thing he has to go on.

What do you think Roger’s reaction would be to Bree’s engagement?

Heartbroken but once [the agreement is] explained, I think overwhelmed, flattered, relieved. She did this while holding out hope and being committed to him for the long run.

And possibly raising another man’s baby?

Roger and Bree will are gonna have to talk about that but he's such a honorable man, I think we know what route he's going to go down.

Outlander, Sundays, 8/7c, Starz

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