Outlander book readers know that Jenny Murray plays a big role in “Drums of Autumn,” when Brianna travels to the 18th Century in search of her parents Jamie and Claire. Jenny welcomes Brianna in Lallybroch and shows her letters from her brother Jamie, which comes as a huge relief to Brianna because that means her dad and mom are still alive and well and living on Fraser’s Ridge.
But in Sunday’s episode of the Starz drama, Jenny — who was played by Laura Donnelly in previous seasons — is nowhere to be found and is instead greeted by her Ian (Steven Cree) and the inimitable Laoghaire (Nell Hudson). So where’s Jenny?
In an exclusive chat with EW, Executive Producer Maril Davis admits that while they “love” Donnelly, the timing just wasn’t right to feature her in the fourth season.
“In the last minute, Laura Donnelly could not be in this episode and she, unfortunately, had a prior commitment and just wasn’t able to commit,” admits Davis. “We love Laura, we love the character Jenny and she’s such a spark to any season. Obviously, Jenny and Ian aren’t in this season as much as some of the other characters but every time they show up, we just love them. They are fan favorites. We had every intention of having a Brianna and Jenny but we waited and we kept dragging our feet, quite honestly, because we thought we could convince her and the schedules would change. We could move our schedule and accommodate her but at the end of the day, it just didn’t work out so we scrambled to come up with another story.”
That ended up being good news for the delightful Hudson. Jamie’s former wife already has an important role in “Drums of Autumn,” but Jenny’s absence gave the writers a chance to shine even more light on the woman who fans love to hate.
“That’s why also Laoghaire ends up having the bigger part,” Davis admits. “We just love her Nell. I know not everyone loves to hate Laoghaire but she did such an amazing job and we also love the idea of seeing Laoghaire as a normal person, do you know what I mean? Laoghaire is a good mom. She’s done some horrible things but it was interesting to see Laoghaire before she becomes crazy Laoghaire, and what kind of person she would be if this did not happen to her. they could have all been friends, who knows? But then of course, the Laoghaire that we know and love comes out.”
Hudson, in the meantime, had some fun teasing the return of her “bish” character. On Twitter, she playfully lamented about playing an older version of Laoghaire.
In the meantime, Donnelly is aware of all the broken hearts she left behind in Outlander nation. Last month, she tweeted how sorry she was that she couldn’t join season 4, as she is busy on Broadway with “The Ferryman.”
Outlander airs Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on Starz.