Credit: Starz

Art came uncomfortably close to life in Sunday's episode of Outlander. In "Better to Mary Than Burn," Roger (Richard Rankin) and Bree (Sophie Skelton) battle a terrifying plague of locusts on Fraser's Ridge – an unfortunate coincidence since a plague of locusts are currently threatening East Africa and Yemen, as well as Iran, Pakistan, and India. (And how about that other moment midway in the episode, when Governor Tyron talks about his recent legislation to prevent 10 or more men from gathering? A little social distancing for the 18th century, perhaps)?

Eh, we digress. The episode's "biblical plague," as Roger so aptly describes it, should come as a surprise to book fans since it doesn't actually happen in "The Fiery Cross" – the fifth book in Diana Gabaldon's best-selling book series, on which the current season is based. Here, Executive Producer Matthew B. Roberts explains why he brought the thunder down on poor Roger and Bree – and why they stayed away from Jocasta's wedding.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The battling of the locusts was impressive. How much of that was computer generated, and how much of it involved smoking up an acre or so of land?

MATTHEW B. ROBERTS: We used both live and VFX locusts to create the swarm. The same with the smoke. Some of that was created by our special effects team, then it was enhanced with VFX. The actors are all real [laughs].

In the book, Bree goes to the wedding. Why did you keep her home to battle the locusts? 

We wanted to give Roger and Bree a challenging dilemma that showed that they are ever-evolving as a loving and equal couple. To explore how Roger and Bree work as a team, we kept them home together to fend off the swarm and keep Fraser’s Ridge safe while Jamie and Claire were away.  In the book series, the locusts attack the Ridge in “A Breath of Snow and Ashes,” which is book six. However, it’s Claire that tells Jamie about burning a field to save more crops.

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